Thinking, Fast and Slow is a best-selling book written by Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, a professor at Princeton University (USA), winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Usually, we believe we are acting rationally. But is it true? Based on the research on cognitive and social psychology, Daniel Kahneman reveals the secrets of how the human brain works, describes unconscious prejudice, the properties of intuitive and conscious thinking, the role of emotions in evaluative judgments.
Without this knowledge, you risk making the wrong choices in the store, invest in wrong projects and generally make the wrong decisions. Thinking, Fast and Slow will teach you to use the limited attention resources effectively, to make decisions in conditions of uncertainty and to improve your own judgments.
The principal idea
In the 1970s, two hypotheses were generally accepted. First, people are rational and think reasonably. Second, most deviations from rationality are explained by emotions. But Kahneman’s research has shown that the constant mistakes of people’s thinking are due to the very mechanism of thinking rather than to the influence of emotions.
Today, in general, researchers agree with the thesis that our minds tend to bias systematically. Kahneman’s principal idea is to demonstrate the work of the mind with the latest discoveries in cognitive and social psychology.
In his book, Kahneman identifies two systems in the human psyche:
System 1 is responsible for a very fast, automatic, often emotional reaction that does not require effort and control. It works automatically and very quickly, almost without requiring effort and without giving a sense of intentional control. Some skills of System 1 are built in by nature: object recognition, orientation in space, reflex facial expressions. Others are formed by practice: simple calculations, driving a car on an empty road, recognizing stereotypes. Some of them we realize, some do not.
System 2 highlights the attention needed for conscious mental effort, including those for complex calculations. Its work is related to conscious activity, choice, and concentration. The System 2 requires attention. The problem will no longer be able to be fulfilled.
Here is the trick: our limit of attention is not endless, and it is reasonable to save it. Therefore, System 1 takes a lead. The problem is that saving energy and time, it is at risk of a lot of mistakes.
Kahneman several times mentions that the systems are absolutely virtual: you will not find even the slightest trace in the brain. We cannot say that some parts of the brain are responsible for the System 1 operation, and some of them provide the System 2 functioning. The separation used by Kahneman is nothing more than a model of brain work, and the model always simplifies the object.
Kahneman believes that it effortlessly generates impressions and feelings that are the main source of belief and conscious choice of System 2. When System 1 faces difficulties, it turns to System 2 to solve its current task through more detailed and targeted processing. System 2 is mobilized when System 1 cannot solve the issue.
The System 2 formal characteristic is that its actions are coupled with effort, and one of its main characteristics is laziness and unwillingness to spend more energy than necessary. Laziness is an integral part of our nature. Therefore, it happens that those thoughts and actions that System 2 considers to be its own, are often generated by System 1. System 2 specifically reacts to the overload. System 2 protects the most important task so that it could get all the necessary attention, and distribute spare power to other tasks.
— Slimane Zouggari